It was not long after my 20th birthday that I abruptly left home.
I had a very turbulent relationship with my parents throughout my teens, and spent the previous year staying with mostly my then-boyfriend’s parents, and here and there with other friends. My parents and I reconciled briefly around October, and I was allowed to return home, but early in the new year, not long after my birthday, things erupted again. I can’t even remember the details, really, other than the fact that I called my mother a bitch, or something like that. Actually, it was because I was fiercely independent and highly rebellious.
Needless to say, I was told to leave again.
This time, I decided, I was going to do my own thing. I had pretty much decided, before the previous semester ended, that I was not returning to Uni (and skipped writing some of my exams as a result of this decision) and when I was told to leave again, I was not going to, embarrassingly, stay with the now-ex-boyfriends parents again.
My father had arranged a summer holiday job for me at the mines, which paid pretty well, and my last pay cheque was due. The morning after I was asked to leave, I feigned illness and waited for my family to go to work and school. I packed up all my important belongings (all my music and a couple of pieces of my favourite clothing), scrounged some money from around the house and walked out of my parents house for the last time.
I got to the bottom of our driveway and started walking towards the train station with meaning. I knew it was a good three to four kilometres away, but it was fine. I was wearing my docs and I was leaving home for good.
Our elderly neighbour happened to drive by. She stopped and offered me a lift, obviously believing I was off to visit a friend. No-one would run away from home with so little, right? Kind old lady, she took me all the way to the station.
I bought a train ticket and went all the way to the east rand, where I phoned my boyfriend at the time and told him to come fetch me.
I stayed with him and his mother for two days to clear my head, but knew it wouldn’t last. And anyway, I wanted to make my own rules, so I took up sleeping on a friend’s couch for another couple of days while I figured things out.